Ever heard of this extreme sport called Banzai Skydiving?
It’s like skydiving, only without the parachute. Born and bred in the boundary-pushing capital of the world, Japan, Banzai Skydiving – “banzai” being a Japanese war cry that means “to attack fiercely and recklessly” – consists of throwing one’s parachute out of the plane and waiting a minimum of 2 seconds before jumping after it.
The idea is to catch the parachute on the way down, put it on yourself and deploy it to land without injury. Somehow, there have been no recorded Banzai Skydiving deaths, and the world record belongs to Yasuhiro Kubo, who waited a whopping 50 seconds before taking his leap.
For many of us, waiting feels like an extreme sport sometimes. Our leap of faith is the waiting.
WAITING VS WAITING ON
Nobody likes waiting for what they want. Even if it’s for simple things, like the bus. Maybe you’re waiting for a text back from somebody you like. Or a better job opportunity to come your way. Waiting requires patience.
Little wonder another word for patience is long-suffering.
Isaiah 41:31 is a popular verse about the unpopular activity. Those who wait on the Lord will find new strength. Some versions read as “those who wait for the Lord”. This may give us an impression that God has left us alone in our season of waiting – doing the exact kind of waiting we don’t enjoy very much.
We’re praying furiously, hoping for a reply but He doesn’t appear to be reading our messages. Or worse, ignoring them.
Waiting on the Lord is about weaving Him and His Word into our spirit, our inner man, like a rope that is strengthened by the number of strands woven into it.
But the Hebrew word used in the original text paints a very different picture. The word is qavah, which literally means to bind together like a cord. All translations, however, interpret this word figuratively, as “to wait”, “to hope” or “to expect”. This waiting is active. Waiting on the Lord is about weaving Him and His Word into our spirit, our inner man, like a rope that is strengthened by the number of strands woven into it.
On our own, our mental, emotional and spiritual cord is weak, prone to breakage and overstretching. But when we fill our hearts and minds with Scripture, worship and prayer, we allow the Holy Spirit into our waiting room. Suddenly, He’s no longer a distant God who’s taking His time to pay heed to us. He’s right there, holding us firm and reinforcing us with supernatural strength for the long suffering (Ecclesiastes 4:12).
We’re waiting with Him, leaning on Him every step of the way.
Another illustration for this active waiting is the mating ritual of the bald eagle. Known as the cartwheel display or death spiral, a male and female eagle lock talons in the air and tumble towards the earth, only letting go just before they hit the ground. In our waiting, our qavah upon God, we bind ourselves to Him in the ultimate act of trust.
We’re not sitting alone in terrifying anticipation of certain death, certain disappointment or certain failure. Our spirits are locked in tandem to the safest, most experienced jump partner. Everything may seem to be spiralling beyond control and we’re plummeting in nerve-racking uncertainty.
But at the crucial moment, in His perfect timing – when it’s finally time to act – He comes through to us in startling clarity and we rise up on wings like eagles, imbued with His strength and Spirit.
Waiting is so hard is because contrary to popular belief, it takes more courage to be still and wait on God than it does to charge forward and fight (Exodus 14:14). Waiting means surrendering all control and possibility of winning or saving ourselves by our own efforts, the way we know how. Not by might, nor by power but by His Spirit (Zechariah 4:6).
Can you be brave enough to relinquish all control? Can you be brave enough to do absolutely nothing and let God do absolutely everything?
WHY ARE WE WAITING?
The weight of waiting also sits heavily in the questions that will inevitably arise along the way. In his book, Handle with Prayer, Dr Charles Stanley addresses 4 reasons why prayers may appear to have gone unanswered or not answered the way we desire:
1. We must seek God
God wants us to seek Him more than any else. He wants our undivided attention, our heart, soul and mind. He wants us to be consumed with Him. Unfortunately, we look to our needs and wants and forget what God is trying to do in and through us. God will withhold answers to prayer if we are not seeking His face.
2. We must trust Him
God withhold answers so we learn to trust Him. If He gave us everything we wanted, there’s no fun in that, is there? We need faith (Hebrews 11:6). Trust teaches us the valuable lesson that we are not to take Him for granted. God does not withhold answers to taunt us or toy with our emotions. He teaches us to persist in prayer, keep our eyes on Him, and reject our feelings. We are to rely on His promises and not what we see and feel. Let God prove Himself faithful in every situation and it’ll become easier to trust Him.
3. He is preparing us
Another reason is that He is in the process of preparing us. If God had answered all my prayers according to my timing, I would have missed His best. Much of what we pray for is in the will of God, but our timing is off. God is waiting for us to grow spiritually in some areas before He’ll give us the spiritual and materials blessings.
4. Sometimes God has something better
God will withhold answers because something better is in store. It may be more than we deserve, more than we ask for and more than we expect
THINGS TO DO IN GOD’S WAITING ROOM
Dr Philip Lyn, Senior Pastor of Skyline SIB Church in Malaysia, has preached on the posture of waiting, giving us 3 attitudes we can have when encountering a season of waiting.
Attitude #1:“Develop me” instead of “Deliver me”
Attitude #2: “What can I take out of this situation?” over “Take me out of this situation!”
Attitude #3: What is “internal” is “eternal”
“We also glory in tribulations, knowing that tribulation produces perseverance; and perseverance, character; and character, hope.” (Romans 5:3-4) Australian activist, evangelist and international speaker Christine Caine refers to the waiting season as “God’s darkroom”, where God prepares us for the purposes we will serve the way analog photographs are developed.
If you want to develop great photos from the negatives, you can’t take shortcuts in the darkroom. The entire process involves a lot of time and care and patience.
In the same way, God uses others in the body of Christ, time, circumstances, trials and gradual development to burn the light of Christ into our souls so that when we emerge from His darkroom, nothing can destroy the image of His Son developed in our lives.
It is worth the wait.
We don’t need to know what God is going to do before we trust that He knows what He is doing. The clay does not attempt to play the Potter (Romans 9:20-21). In Christine’s words, “there is a process – a divine order – that requires submission first … God requires our obedience before our understanding. This enables you to be faithful in unwelcome circumstances and trials, even though they may hurt, because you can appreciate that God is at work in you”.
THOSE WHO TRUST WILL FIND
The Israelites whom Moses led out of slavery in Egypt were well acquainted with the art of waiting. Guided by a God-given pillar of fire by day and a pillar of cloud by night, they had the ultimate guiding light (Exodus 13:21). When the pillar moved, they were to move. When it stopped, they stopped.
No explanations, just a trust that God always knew the best route, always had their safety in mind, always intended to get them to the Promised Land.
We, too, have a pillar of fire and cloud. He is called the Holy Spirit and He lives inside all who believe in the name of Jesus.
We, too, have a pillar of fire and cloud. He is called the Holy Spirit and He lives inside all who believe in the name of Jesus. When He pushes us to move, we move. But when He stops us, for no matter how long, we stop. We wait. In other translations of Isaiah 41:31, the word “wait” is replaced with “trust”. Those who trust in the Lord will find new strength.
Because waiting is essentially that: Trust. Trust that the same God of Israel has already mapped out the best path. Always protects us from the real dangers we cannot see. Always intends to get us to His Promised Land for our lives.
Just wait and see.